They stuck with him as he separated children from their parents, as he used his power to profit off of the presidency, as he at least twice obstructed justice, as he tried to strongarm a foreign leader into smearing a political opponent, as he ignored a global health crisis that has now killed more than 380,000 Americans, and as he degraded his office and threw the country into turmoil with a daily barrage of lies, conspiracy theories, bigotry, and inanity. But, with just a week left in his term, Donald Trump may have finally found a line he can’t cross with the GOP: Inciting a literal attack on the U.S. Capitol that not only endangered the lives of Democrats, journalists, and other people they don’t seem to care all that much about, but their own.
Though the president characteristically took no blame for last week’s deadly riot, saying in his first appearance since the siege that his pump-up speech to armed insurrectionists January 6 was “totally appropriate” and everybody thinks so. But Republicans aren’t backing him up this time like they did during previous outrages. Sure, there’s still loyalists like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who are proud as ever to stand beside him, and others, like Senator Tim Scott, opposing a second impeachment against the president with disingenuous calls for unity. But we’re seeing Republicans break with Trump like never before in the wake of the attack, as his erratic behavior and the threat of further violence looms over his final days in office.
Several House Republicans have already broken with the president and the top Republican in the chamber, Kevin McCarthy. The most prominent among them is Liz Cheney, the third-highest ranking House Republican, who announced on Tuesday evening that she will vote to impeach Trump Wednesday. “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” she said in a statement. “Everything that followed was his doing.”
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” Cheney added.
Her statement came amid buzz that Mitch McConnell, who shielded Trump from conviction in his first impeachment trial, is welcoming this new effort to oust the president, apparently believing not only that his boss committed an impeachable offense, but also that this could be a prime opportunity for the party to cut ties with their walking liability of a leader and move on. Might the GOP actually boot him this time? It’s hard to know. There are enough McCarthys on Capitol Hill, who want him gone but don’t want to be the ones to force him out, and enough crazies like Greene who actually buy his bullshit, to give the president some armor against removal—especially with his term ending in a week anyway. But there are also several Republicans in the House who have already announced they will vote to impeach—John Katko, Adam Kinzinger, Fred Upton, and Jaime Herrera Beutler—and several in the Senate who may vote to convict. As the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin said Tuesday, a Senate aide had estimated 20 GOP senators were open to removing Trump, even before he, Maggie Haberman, and Nicholas Fandos reported that McConnell may support conviction.
A Senate Republican aide tells me he thinks there were about 20, give or take, Republicans who were *open* to a conviction
Before our story on McConnell
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) January 12, 2021
For some, like perhaps Mitt Romney, the only Senate Republican to vote for Trump’s conviction last time around, this 11th hour move to oust the president is likely a matter of principle. Others may be moved out of fear for what he might do next, given recent behavior that has been unstable even by his standard. But for others, this might just be a convenient off-ramp. If they objected to his unsteadiness, his corruption, his mendacity, and his dangerous megalomania, they could have done it before it got to this point, even if standing up to him came at a political cost (or a least a mean tweet.) If they take him on now, it’s not because his conduct has measurably changed; it’s because his own political capital has depreciated to the point that the toll for breaking with him no longer seems so high.
And yet, the growing exodus from Trumpland is welcome, even if it is coming years too late. This cosseted president has motored through life fueled only by id, never having to suffer any real consequences for the wreckage in his rearview. That he may suffer some actual political, financial, and perhaps even legal repercussions for his actions is long overdue — but better late than never.
— Jared and Ivanka’s Final Chapter in Washington Demolished Their Future— After a Day of Violence, Trump’s Allies Are Jumping Ship— The Unbearable Whiteness of Storming the Capitol— Gary Cohn Is a Test Case for Trying to Wash Off the Trump Stink— The Deeply Unsettling, Not Entirely Surprising Images of Trump’s Capitol Hill Mob— Twitter Finally Muzzling Trump Is Too Little, Too Late— The Eerie Charlottesville Echoes of Trump Supporters’ Capitol Coup— From the Archive: Inside the Cult of Trump, His Rallies Are Church and He Is the Gospel
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